Page last updated at 12:46 GMT, Thursday, 29 April 2010 13:46 UK

Pupil assault teacher Peter Harvey 'charismatic'

Peter Harvey
Peter Harvey was described as an "extraordinary" teacher

A jury trying a teacher accused of attempting to murder a pupil with a dumbbell has heard he was "charismatic" and commanded his students' respect.

Peter Harvey, 50, denies attempted murder at All Saints' Roman Catholic School, Mansfield, in July 2009.

The teacher was also described at Nottingham Crown Court as a "caring and giving" man, who looked after his wife as she fought severe depression.

The jury retired to consider its verdict on Thursday afternoon.

His victim, a 14-year-old boy, suffered a fractured skull.

Along with the attempted murder charge, Mr Harvey also denies causing grievous bodily harm with intent, but has admitted a charge of causing grievous bodily harm.

'Extraordinary teacher'

Caroline Frith, a former pupil of Mr Harvey, told the court she had been inspired to become a history teacher by the defendant.

She said: "He was a very good teacher in every aspect. He was incredibly charismatic and he commanded the respect of his students.

"He put a lot of planning into his work and he could get the children involved and enthused about science."

Nick Harding, a magistrate and friend of Mr Harvey's for 20 years, described him as an "extraordinary" teacher.

He said: "Peter was devoted to the job and about his subject. Peter is a very caring, loving and giving man. I have never seen him be anything but that."

There is no doubt that Mr Harvey wanted to get back to work far too soon, having convinced himself he was ready to return
Stuart Rafferty QC

The court has previously heard that Mr Harvey had been signed off from school with depression and stress in the past.

Witnesses earlier told the court that Mr Harvey dragged the boy out of the room and carried out the attack "as if possessed".

Stuart Rafferty QC, prosecuting, described the case as a tragedy but said jurors should not acquit Mr Harvey because of sympathy for him.

He said: "When you take away someone's life, their reason for existence, as teaching must have been for him, it's like an addict and you are withdrawing a drug from them, isn't it?

"An addict in that position wants nothing more than to go back and get his fix. There is no doubt that Mr Harvey wanted to get back to work far too soon, having convinced himself he was ready to return.

"He was diminished because, understandably, having been depressed, he had lost something, hadn't he?

"He had lost his confidence to teach, he had lost his confidence to control a class."

Previously the court heard the victim was regularly in trouble for disrupting lessons.

Mr Rafferty told the jury if they had been abusive to the teacher "your feet wouldn't have touched the ground".

He added: "You would have been frog-marched to the headmaster's office and thrashed."

The trial continues.

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